Matthew 5 -7, Jesus’ teaching on the mountain. He was bringing us back to the basic truths which are like the constitution of the kingdom of heaven.
End of chapter 4, Jesus performed some miracles and great multitudes followed Him. They were from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond Jordan.
Chapter 5 begins by saying Jesus saw these multitudes; they were needy people. He had been helping them in a physical way and possibly, some also in a spiritual way. He knew they all had a spiritual need that could be weakened. Seeing those multitudes, He withdrew from them and went up into the mountain. His disciples followed Him. It seems that He knew the hope of the multitude really is in His disciples.
Our experience here at convention is like a mountaintop experience. When we climb the mountain, like getting away and above from the normal activities of life. Jesus was putting something into the lives of these disciples that would help them to be a blessing to the multitude.
We’re thankful whenever we hear of someone who has responded; someone who has accepted an invitation to come to gospel meetings and has come. Then, when someone has made their choice to follow Jesus, it is like being called from the multitude. So, that’s like the way the chapter begins. When the chapter ends, Jesus says, “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” We might conclude that all that Jesus was sharing with them was to help them become more like their Father. The more we’re like our Father, the more we’re also like Christ, His Son.
The first verses of Hebrews tell us that Jesus is the “brightness of His glory and the express image of His person,” which is so much like Him. We sometimes see a little boy, who is so much like his dad. Sometimes we see a little girl who is so much like her mother. We see a likeness there. There was never a son more like His Father, than Jesus Christ. So, the whole object of our coming together is that we might receive something into our lives to be more like Jesus and more like our Father. We would like to have the spirit of our Father.
This chapter gives us little keys to the blessing of God; that will lead us to the blessing of God. A hymn says, “Now may Thy richest blessing freely flow.” These “blesseds” are teaching us how we can tap into that flow of God’s richest blessing; how it can come into our lives through our attitude towards Him; how we can be enriched by Him. That blessing makes us the salt of the earth and the light of the world. You’ll notice when Jesus talked about the light of the world, that He mentioned light in two different ways: LIKE A CITY set on a hill and can’t be hid. Even from quite a distance, it can be seen.
Psalm 122:3, “Jerusalem is built as a city that is compact together.” When you see its lights from a distance, you don’t pick out any individual light, you just see a group of blended lights. A wonderful testimony goes forth from God’s children – the love, unity, and the fellowship is often what people see. Not particularly any one light, but just this grouping of lights. Fellowship of lights that are closely bonded together makes a very strong light.
Jesus’ other illustration of light is LIKE A CANDLE. Only one little candle in a house, is an individual light – like you and me. It says here that it gives light to those who are in the house. If we want to be a light to the world, we’d have to be light to those who are in the house too. Someone said, “The light that shines the farthest, shines the brightest nearest home.”
Later in this chapter, Jesus speaks of different laws that you read about in the Old Testament. This is the Law and every time, He says, “But I say unto you.” I have something a little different for you and He enlarges on what God really wants us to grasp regarding those laws. He goes much deeper than what the Law went. He goes into thoughts, motives, and desires. Did you notice there are different laws, but every one of them really has to do with our relationship with others?
The “Blesseds” have to do with the relationship with God and that leads to being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. That helps us to bring something Godly into our relationships with others. When our relationship with God is healthy and alive, and we’re using the keys to make it rich, it helps us to bring a sweetness into all our relationships.
Let’s go over these laws and bring out how they have to do with our relationships:
1. The first one deals with our relationship with a brother in Christ, who is being tested and how we can move to make it right. We need to be concerned about reconciliation with a brother. These relationships go all the way through from a relationship with a brother to a relationship with an enemy. An enemy is someone who has done us damage; to us personally, or the truth generally.
2. The second law deals with moral things. God’s people should have (on every hand) morally pure relationships.
3. The third law is the married relationship that should be kept the way God intended.
4. The fourth law deals with our word. People must be able to depend on our “Yes” and “No.” When they can trust that, the relationship grows. When our “Yes” is “Yes” and our “No” is “No,” people know they can depend on our word and it adds much to a strong and wholesome relationship.
5. The fifth law deals with reactions to people. When someone says or does something hurtful, inconsiderate, or unkind – how do we react? When you turn the other cheek, there are three things we’re not doing: not fighting back; not trying to hurt them as a result of them hurting us; not running away. We’re not exposing our hurt; our cheek is turned away; we’re not advertising it. It’s a wonderful Christ-like reaction!
Then it tells about demanding people who ask more of us than what we think is right. Jesus talks about just going a second mile.
They all have to do with relationships: with a brother; keeping moral relationships; marriage relationships; keeping our word so people can trust what we say; reaction when things go wrong in a Christ-like way; demanding relationships and then a relationship with an enemy.
At the beginning of chapter 5, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – is a key we can all use to tap into God’s richest blessing by feeling and recognizing our need. Our need tells us to approach the presence of our Father. A person could do that only through Christ. A need is a key everybody has. Hebrews 4:15, our High Priest is touched by the feeling of our infirmities, the fact that we feel it. Everybody has an infirmity, but when we feel our infirmity, it touches our High Priest when we are aware of it.
Psalm 40 ends, “But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me.” This is a wonderful key to the blessing of God. Psalm 40 begins, “I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined unto me and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings. He hath put a new song in my mouth… and many shall see it.” There was more than just hearing it – they could see it. The Psalm begins with a cry in a pit and ends with a song on a rock. The Psalm ends with, “But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: Thou art my help and my deliverer.”
Sometimes we lose our song. We already heard much about joy. When we lose our song, something is wrong. We want to get it back. The Psalmist wanted to get it back. So we cry. It’s serious when we lose our song, but it’s tragic when we lose our cry. When our cry is genuine, it will bring our song back again. Feeling this need brings us into the sweet flow of the rich blessing of God.
The next is, “Blessed are they that mourn, they shall be comforted.” Ecclesiastes 7:2, “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” God has planned life that sorrow would do something for us.
A hymn says, “Let sorrow do its work.” Part of its work is making our hearts more serious. Another hymn says, “Joy and sorrow interwoven.” God has wisely planned it that way. Sorrow makes the heart better and has wonderful potential to make the heart softer, more serious. Like when we go to a funeral, we feel more serious about life. Sorrow makes our hearts softer.
Another work that sorrow does is to make the heart more trusting in the One who has given us life and who wants to guide us safely through.
2 Corinthians 7:9 is another work that sorrow does, “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” “Not to be repented of” just means not to regret.
There’s a sorrow because of failure, defeat; sorrow and/or also sin. It’s wonderful if that sorrow can work towards repentance and repentance can work toward salvation. Repentance isn’t something that just happens when we make our choice. Along the journey of life again and again, failure and defeat comes, so it’s a continuous thing to be repentant and not presume the mercy of God. Not to just think, “Oh, the blood of Christ was shed and that makes it all right.” No, it does Not make it all right.
Ezekiel 43:10, “Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities and let them measure the pattern.” Maybe we’re aware of our iniquity, but we’re not really ashamed of it. Being ashamed of it, will help lead us to repentance. The way to be ashamed is to measure the pattern. It means to have a look at Jesus, He is the pattern. This will help us to have a godly reaction to sin.
Verse 11, “And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house and the fashion thereof and the goings out thereof and the comings in thereof.” If we can just be ashamed, God can show us more and more. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” We can know true forgiveness and true comfort.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness seems related to submission that is a key to the flow of God’s richest blessings. Two definitions of meekness: meekness is submission without resentment. We heard of a little boy who was asked to sit down and he did. But he said, “I’m still standing up inside.” That’s submission with resentment. The other definition of meekness is submission to God and gentleness toward men. In another language, the word used for meekness is the same as for an animal whose will is broken and has submitted to a master.
A worker told a story of an animal as they walked on a jungle trail. Around a bend, they met a fierce-looking great black bull. This bull was being led by a little girl around 10 years old. That animal was many times her weight. If it wanted to, it could crush her little body into the ground and break every bone. But, it just followed her and the workers asked her about this. “Yes,” she says, “It’s very big. We call him Midnight, because he’s very black.” They asked her if it ever tries to run away from her. “No, no,” she says. “He never tries anything, he just follows along.” They asked her where she was taking him. “Oh, I’m taking him to the neighbors who have a plough and they want him to pull the plough for them.” She pulled on the rope a little bit and said, “Come on, Midnight,” and he just followed along. That wasn’t weakness on the part of the animal, he was meek; he had learned submission very well.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” We all feel we want to be right. Isaiah 32:17, “The work of righteousness shall be peace and the effect of righteousness, quietness, and assurance forever.” Many people would like to have peace. But how about the process that brings about peace? Do we want to be right with God? Do we want to make whatever adjustments the Lord could ask, so that we could be right? Little children need correction; a vine needs pruning to be fruitful.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” It’s easy for parents to be merciful to their children after they misbehave when they see repentance. The Lord loves to show mercy, but He looks for repentance. It’s a privilege to show mercy to each other. We want to forgive. If we fail to show mercy, we burn the bridge over which we ourselves must cross. We think of Jesus looking over that group of angry people that put Him on the cross and He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, they shall see God.” An old worker once said, “They shall see God in others.” The pure in heart shall see God in others and in experiences. They will see His hand in everything, in great events and small.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” We don’t want to be trouble makers. Peace makers follow after the things that make for peace.
A problem between brothers. If I know my brother has something against me, what do I do? We go to him. Matthew 18 puts it the other way around. If a brother has trespassed against you and now you have something against the brother – now it’s just the other way around. It doesn’t matter which way it is; we’re still left with the responsibility to go and do what we can to make it right.
In California, two brothers had problems when business dealings had gone sour and didn’t turn out the way they had expected. The recession really hit California; many of the friends lost their jobs and homes; some were in severe financial trouble. Sometimes, a business dealing with a brother can bring real strain on their fellowship. These two men had this business deal that went wrong and they got together to talk it out. Then both got angry and were blaming the other and parted with very unkind words.
Saturday evening, one brother was in his home thinking about being quiet and that he’d be in the meeting the next morning with that brother. But, he couldn’t get settled. He finally was convinced – he’d just have to go see that brother and he went to the other home. He rang the doorbell and the other man came to the door. It was a cold winter evening and he was putting on his coat. He felt just the same way and he also wanted to go to the other brother. He too couldn’t face the Sunday morning meeting without making that right. They had a visit and the next day they had a wonderful Sunday morning meeting. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I’m sure they both just said, “I am at fault.”
Abigail went out to face David and 400 of his men that were out to destroy her husband. She said, “Let the iniquity be on me.” She was a real peacemaker. Sometimes, we all can be inclined to be stingy to accept the blame. It all goes so well when we can just say, “I was wrong; I’m sorry.” Those brothers were reconciled.
The next one is about relationships being moral and morally pure. There are backgrounds to thoughts and what’s in our hearts to the direction our meditation is going. Maybe it’s a bad background. Try to nip a wrong thought in the bud – early. Jesus meant this when He said, “If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out” – what we look at. “If thine hand offend thee, cut it off” – what we touch. This all is background to this. We need to be so careful.
We’ve got to keep our relationships morally pure. In the world, it doesn’t matter. But, it matters in God’s kingdom. Women can help in this matter by modest dress and ways of interacting. Modesty, mostly just means being covered (determined how much others see). The world is careless about modesty. I know that in America, modesty in society has become brazenly immodest.
Marriage and marriage relationship. Jesus said here and in other places about divorce and remarriage. Matthew 5; Matthew 19; Mark 10; Luke 16; Paul writes in Romans 7 and I Corinthians 7. If we read these with a very open mind and try to understand, we can look at them for loopholes, or, we can look at them trying to understand what is being said. We’ll see without question that God does not appreciate or favor divorce in any way.
Malachi 2:16, “For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that He hateth putting away.” Other translations and languages say, “God hates divorce.” The Lord doesn’t favour remarriage after divorce (Matthew 19:9 except in the case of fornication; Matthew 5.32 saving for fornication). It is adultery for the sinner. Paul calls it adultery . We might try to make this vague, but the message is clear.
My parents gave us no reason to question their love for God or one another or for us. I grew up in a rural farming district and among all our Protestant and Catholic neighbors. I didn’t know of 1 divorce case. Those people, that society, without the help of the Spirit just didn’t accept divorce and were able to see that marriages remained intact. Here we are with tremendous help that those people didn’t have. So, scripture encourages us that if we are married, to make it work. Probably, in all marriages there are times when it is hard work and if you are divorced, remain single.
These are some of the foundation teachings in Matthew 5 and it’s helpful to look into it. It’s wonderful to know that we still look today to these same wonderful foundation truths. We’d like to just use the keys to this wonderful flow of the blessing of God into our lives, so we can keep relationships what they should be, so that we can be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.